- The right backpacking pack makes hiking multiple miles with a 30-pound bag on your back a comfortable experience
- Brands like Osprey, REI Co-op, and Gregory make a wide range of packs geared toward different styles of backpacking excursions
- The most useful features are how much the bag can hold, how it distributes the load, and if it’s compatible with hydration packs
- We tested several models over miles of backcountry trails to find the industry’s best, and that is the Osprey Atmos AG 65.
Backpacking is a fun but grueling outdoor activity, yet it doesn’t always have to be. With the right equipment, a multiday trip into the backcountry could feel like a literal walk in the park. Achieving this starts with purchasing the right backpack.
Since you’ll be hauling everything you need to survive, your pack needs to hold up to the harshness the outdoors may throw at you and remain comfortable while doing so. This means finding a pack that’s capable of hauling everything from a change of clothes and a sleeping bag to ample food and water.
Backpacking packs differ from traditional backpacks in that they’re designed to hold upward of 30 or 40 pounds of cargo, while still being comfortable to wear. The best packs do this by distributing weight across its frame to avoid having the bulk of the weight sit on any one part of your body. These packs also feature an abundance of pockets to hold a variety of gear, as well as a sleeve for a hydration pouch.
Finding the right pack for your needs isn’t always an easy process. With so many on the market, it’s difficult to know which are best suited to the type of backpacking you prefer. To help, we’ve tested an array of backpacking packs from brands like Osprey, Arc’teryx, and Gregory to narrow down the best of the bunch.
Osprey knows how to design and manufacture quality backpacks and its Atmos AG 65 is the best in its lineup and our favorite overall. Featuring the brand’s patented Anti-Gravity technology, the pack contours to your body to properly distribute its cargo weight and to offer a perfect fit. Its peripheral frame also uses load lifters to spread excess weight from the hip-belt and on up to the top of the pack. Its 65-liter capacity means it’s great for multi-day trips, as well.
But the Atmos AG 65 isn’t the only best player. Here are all our favorite backpacking packs currently available.
Here are the best men’s backpacking backpacks you can buy:
- Best men’s backpacking backpack overall: Osprey Atmos AG 65
- Best men’s backpacking backpack for short trips: REI Co-op Traverse 35
- Best men’s backpacking backpack for durability: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Pack
- Best men’s backpacking backpack for heavy cargo: Gregory Paragon 58
- Best suspension system men’s backpacking backpack: Arc’teryx Bora AR 50
The best men’s backpacking backpack overall
With 65-liters of cargo space, upper and lower compression straps to stabilize heavy loads, and Osprey’s Anti-Gravity mesh back panel, the Atmos AG 65 is a backpacker’s dream. It’s perfect for short weekend trips but also excels for longer, multiday excursions.
The Osprey Atmos AG 65 focuses on providing absolute comfort no matter how far you’re hiking or how much cargo you’re hauling. Its 65-liter capacity may be too much for anyone setting out on an overnight trip, as it’s meant more for a weekend or longer excursions. Even when it’s not completely full, the pack never feels as though it’s flopping around on your back or creating a poor fit.
It features a top-loading design in its main compartment, as well as several exterior pockets designed to hold water bottles, ice climbing tools, or trekking poles. The Atmos also has a zippered bottom area designed to hold a sleeping bag, as well as removable exterior straps which are used to secure a sleeping pad.
For load management, Osprey’s LightWire frame connects the upper part of the pack to the hip-belt and central core to help distribute weight. Compression straps located on both the upper and lower part of the pack also reduce the pack’s bulk and balanced out heavier loads during our tests.
Its best feature is the Anti-Gravity ventilated mesh back panel which contoured to our back to create a snug fit. This helped evenly distribute weight, specifically taking it off our shoulders, hips, and back. This allowed us to carry more weight without feeling bogged down.
At $270, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 is one of the best values among any picks on this list. Being uncomfortable can quickly ruin any backpacking trip, so investing in a pack like this one is always well worth the money.
Pros: Osprey’s Anti-Gravity mesh back panel molds to your back to create a comfortable, custom fit, included FlapJacket fly helps protect against rainy weather, and its upper and lower compression straps reduce load weight
Cons: Size could be bulky for smaller people or short, day trips
The best men’s backpacking backpack for short trips
REI Co-op’s Traverse 35 offers ample cargo room for weekend-long adventures but remains lightweight enough for quick day trips or overnighters. The brand’s innovative UpLift Compression technology allows you to easily situate the pack-load toward your center of gravity, making heavy loads easier to manage.
Backpacking trips don’t always need to be grueling multi-day treks, so when shorter daytrips or overnighters are on the agenda, REI Co-op’s Traverse 35 is the pack you’ll want. Small enough to avoid slowing you down but with enough cargo space to support you for one or two days on the trail.
Even for a smaller pack, it’s loaded with features geared toward making backpacking easier. REI designed its back panel to provide extra lumbar support while remaining breathable and flexible. It has a contoured hip-belt with foam padding throughout which sits snug against your body to create a custom fit.
On longer trips when we had more cargo, the pack’s Uplift Compression tech helped raise its load while pulling it toward our center of gravity. This helped with pack stability which left us better balanced, and the pack better supported, while we hiked.
Other features include compatibility with a hydration pouch, an included rain fly, and external tool keepers for trekking poles or ice axes. It also has conveniently-placed bottle pockets which allow you to easily remove and place back water bottles.
The Traverse 35 retails for just $139 and is a great option for anyone just getting into backpacking but not interested in investing in a larger, more expensive model.
Pros: Smaller capacity perfect for day trips, compatible with hydration pouches, contoured foam hip belt provides a snug and comfortable fit, UpLift Compression tech raises the load to improve stability, and it’s inexpensive
Cons: Not suitable for anyone planning on spending multiple days off-grid
The best men’s backpacking backpack for durability
Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2400 Southwest Pack is designed with durability in mind. From hanging branches that scrape your pack as you walk by to sharp rocks at your campsite, the pack’s Dyneema composite exterior holds up to it all. Its 40-liter capacity is good for multiple days on the trail, too.
It’s not just your body that’s able to take a beating on backpacking trips — your gear inevitably will, too. If you plan on backpacking in dense wooded areas or you find that your gear tends to get more scratched and scraped than you like, then Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2400 Southwest Pack is your answer.
Constructed out of durable Dyneema fabric, the pack can be taken into the harshest environments with confidence. Dyneema’s light weight also helps reduce overall pack weight, something that proved to be beneficial when this 40-liter bag was packed to the brim. Its size is perfect for three-day treks and can even be an option for ultralight backpackers setting out for four or five days.
Its roll-top closure system is easy to secure, though it did make it slightly difficult to reach gear in the bottom of the pack while we were on-the-move. There are a few external pockets to store gear that we could quickly access, but these are limited to the front of the pack. Vertical and horizontal compression straps along the sides of the pack help properly secure loads, which was especially useful when the pack wasn’t completely full.
Its interior houses a mesh hydration sleeve that’s separate from the main compartment, so it won’t take up valuable gear space. Other features include fully-seamed seals to keep water out, as well as ice axe loops. The pack is a little expensive at $310 but it’s durability more than validates the investment.
Pros: Constructed out of durable and lightweight Dyneema fabric, 40-liter volume offers enough cargo space for weekend trips, specific hydration pack pocket, and features seamed seals to keep rain out
Cons: Only offers a few external pockets that can fill up easily
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